Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Art Review - "An Artist in His Studio" by John Singer Sargent

It's always a treat to revisit paintings that inspired your journey as an artist. A few weeks back, Kimberly and I were able to get to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston again, where this piece by John Singer Sargent is part of the permanent collection. I first saw this painting decades ago during a Sargent retrospective in St. Louis.

I was immediately struck by the directness of the paint application. Sargent never blends paint on the canvas. He created the transitions within the folds of the sheets by subtle gradations of value in paint strokes. This was a breakthrough for me as a young student. The painting feels so much more deliberate and solid. Every stroke feels intentional.

The painting depicts Sargent's friend and fellow painter, Ambrogio Raffele, and it's far more interesting than a traditional portrait. With the figure pushed off to the side, and the painting and rumpled bed taking up the bulk of the image, it suggests to me how artists live with their art 24/7. This was the first oil painting by Sargent acquired by an American museum.

"An Artist in His Studio" • John Singer Sargent • Oil on Canvas
• 1904 • 22.12" x 28.37"

Painting photo by Saunders Fine Arts

© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Kimberly Saunders for photographs and/or videos, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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